Month: April 2019

Third time lucky: prodigal son signs new deal with Raiders



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Returning Canberra Raiders halfback Sam Williams says a stint in the UK Super League has made him a better player as he prepares to renew his selection battle with Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin.
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Williams finalised a two-year deal on Tuesday and will join the Raiders for a third time when pre-season training begins in the coming weeks.

The 26-year-old’s arrival will add crucial playmaker depth to the Raiders after the departure of Lachlan Croker. Former North Queensland halfback Cooper Bambling is also set to move to the capital.

Sezer and Austin have been Canberra’s first-choice halves for the past two years, but Williams says he is ready to mount a challenge after helping Wakefield into the Super 8 stage of the Super League.

“I really enjoyed my 12 months in the Super League, but the chance to come back to the Raiders was always going to be too hard to say no to,” Williams said.

“The opportunity to come back isn’t always going to be there, so I’m excited about what’s to come.

“Sometimes you’ve got to go outside of your comfort zone a little bit and there’s no doubt I’ve grown as a player in the last 12 months.

“You’re learning off different people and different styles. No doubt it’s helped my game. Now it’s about coming back, training hard and giving yourself the best opportunity to be ready to go.”

Williams is part of the Raiders’ off-season plan to reinvigorate the roster after failing to make the finals last season.

Melbourne Storm premiership-winner Brett White has joined the coaching staff, while Dean Pay is now the Canterbury Bulldogs head coach.

Clay Priest looks set to follow Pay to the Bulldogs, while fullback Brad Abbey could link with the Raiders as part of a player swap.

But the club could be searching for more forwards to improve depth after losing Dave Taylor and Scott Sorensen.

Williams, a former under-20s captain, is returning to Canberra for his third stint after making his NRL debut in 2011.

He joined the St George Illawarra Dragons in 2014 followed by a season with the Catalans Dragons in France before returning to the Green Machine.

Williams had the choice of staying in England or joining rival NRL clubs, but decided on returning to Canberra to restart his halves mission.

“I know the opportunity to wear the green jumper isn’t always going to be there,” Williams said.

“Training every day with Aidan and Blake, we’ve got a healthy competition. Those boys have worked on their combination for the past two years and are great players.

“But I enjoy that challenge and testing myself at training. We try to help each other as much as possible and push each other. That probably lifts the enjoyment factor.

“I’m hoping being back here and push me that little bit further.”

The Raiders are also working on contract extensions for rookie of the year Nick Cotric and hooker Josh Hodgson, who was named in the England World Cup side on Monday night.

Hodgson and Elliott Whitehead will play for England as part of Canberra’s international contingent at the World Cup.

TheatreRoom for more RentKen Longworth



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TIMELESS: Hunter Drama actors in rehearsal for Rent, which will be staged at Civic Playhouse from October 20. Picture: Jo Roberts.DIRECTOR and actor Daniel Stoddart made what he smilingly calls “a throwaway comment” while conversing with fellow performer Daniel Wilson when they were seeing a show at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre last year.
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“What show would you like to do again,” he asked. Wilson, without hesitating, said “Rent”.

Given the popularity Rent has had with Newcastle theatregoers, it didn’t take long for Stoddart to decide to stage the musical this year as part of his Hunter Drama company’s program, with a season at the Civic Playhouse from October 20.

This will be the second or third time in Rent for four of the principals – Amy Vee, Daniel Wilson, Marissa Saroca and Marty Worrall – and ensemble member Allison Van Gaal. The musical has had five productions in Newcastle, with the first, in 2006, so popular that it was restaged in 2007. There was a sold-out concert-style staging in 2011, and another Newcastle company, Pantseat Performing Arts, presented it in April this year.

Rent has been popular with young people who aren’t regular theatregoers. Writer and composer Jonathan Larson gave a catchy rock style to all the songs. And the story, which covers a year in the early 1990s in a down-market part of New York, has university students and would-be musicians and actors meeting and romancing, and finding themselves facing eviction.

The musical likewise has appeal for older people. Larson based the plotline and characters on those of the Puccini opera La Boheme, which is set in Paris in the mid-19th century. The adaptation shows the timelessness of the people and their situations. The opera’s debilitating tuberculosis, which was affecting people at the time of its writing, is replaced by HIV-AIDS, which was prevalent at the time of the musical’s writing in the late 1980s. (Jonathan Larson sadly died from an undiagnosed aortic aneurism just before the show’s Broadway opening in 1996.)

Daniel Wilson plays Mark, a filmmaker and the narrator of the story; Marissa Saroca is his former girlfriend, Maureen, a performance artist; Bec Fitzsimmons is Maureen’s lover, Joanne, a public interest lawyer; Marty Worrall is Mark’s roommate Roger, a musician; Amy Vee is Mimi, an exotic dancer, with whom Roger falls in love; David Giese is Tom Collins, a computer genius; Luke Baker is Collins’ lover, Angel, a street musician and drag queen; and Nicholas Stabler is Benny, a former member of the group who, after marrying into a wealthy family, has become their landlord.

Rent has performances from October 20 to November 4, on Friday and Saturday at 8pm, plus 2pm shows on October 21 and November 4 and an 8pm show on October 26.

‘Natural Chinan’ MPs shouldn’t be disqualified, High Court told



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Legal representatives arrive at the High Court in Canberra on Tuesday 10 October 2017. The court will consider the eligibility of seven politicians in a three day hearing. Fedpol. Photo: Andrew Meares ???”Exorbitant” foreign laws that impose citizenship on ns “willy nilly” and without their knowledge should not disqualify them from Parliament, lawyers for Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce have argued in the High Court.
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On the first day of hearings into the “citizenship seven”, Bret Walker SC – who is also representing deputy Nationals leader Fiona Nash – said section 44 of the constitution was aimed at avoiding split allegiance among MPs.

“There’s no split allegiance where you’re not aware of one of them,” Mr Walker said. “You cannot heed a call you cannot hear.”

Mr Walker said “exorbitant” foreign laws that imposed citizenship by descent – often without the knowledge of those affected – could not be seen to create any split allegiance. He maintained that Mr Joyce and Senator Nash did not know about their dual citizenship.

Mr Joyce discovered in August he was a dual citizen of New Zealand because his father was born there. Senator Nash later realised she was a British dual national.

“It is highly significant that no one suggests section 44 – in its historical provenance – had as its aim the prevention of people having willy nilly or unwittingly been given citizenship by descent,” Mr Walker told the court.

Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue, appearing on behalf of the Turnbull government, said that to disqualify Mr Joyce, Senator Nash and three others – Nationals senator Matt Canavan, former Greens senator Larissa Waters and crossbencher Nick Xenophon – would go against the “operational purpose” of section 44, because none of them knew about their foreign ties.

All five were born in , except for Ms Waters who was born in Canada to n parents. Mr Donaghue argued there should be a distinction between these sorts of “natural-born” ns and overseas-born “naturalised” ns.

One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts and former Greens senator Scott Ludlam – who were born in India and New Zealand respectively, to at least one foreign parent – were in the latter category.

The government believes Senator Roberts and Mr Ludlam – who along with Ms Waters has already quit Parliament due to dual-citizenship – should be ruled ineligible because they were born overseas, came to later in life and should have been aware of the real prospect of foreign citizenship.

Mr Donaghue argued that if any parliamentarian had – or should have had – knowledge of their status “and they shut their eyes to it” then they should be found in breach. This is the test he said applied to Senator Roberts and Mr Ludlam.

Tracing the history of section 44 back to British and colonial law, Mr Donaghue argued there had always been a distinction made between natural-born and naturalised citizens in the past.

Only parliamentarians who have “voluntarily obtained or retained” should fall foul of section 44, he said.

The Solicitor-General conceded the Commonwealth was asking the court to take a “narrower” view of section 44 than it had previously, most notably in the 1992 case of Sykes v Cleary.

However lawyers for Ms Waters and Mr Ludlam will call for a more literal reading of section 44, arguing ignorance is no defence.

The hearings are expected to continue until Thursday.

A purist’s view of the countryside



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The pool at Spicers Hidden Vale also has a magnificent view of the surrounding countryside. Ash Martin, the Head Chef at Spicers Hidden Vale, tucked into the hillsto the west of the historic Brisbane satellite city of Ipswich, is a purist.
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You only have to wander for a few minutes around the extensive garden he and his staff maintain on the classy resort’s 12,000 acres — and chat with him — to realise just how passionate he is about using local, seasonal produce.

Ash Martin … passionate about using local, seasonal produce.

He doesn’t much like doing weddings, and strictly limits the number that he caters for, simply because they tend to impose restrictions on his otherwise free hand in the kitchen.

Instead, he relies on that garden, which now has nearly 90 beds, and a veritable tribe of chickens, geese, dorper lambs and Wessex saddleback pigs that have a pretty free reign of the paddock and sheds between his home and the old homestead which houses the restaurant.

The bounty includes a bevy of fresh vegetables and herbs. Some are pickled and otherwise preserved for the seasons when fresh output is limited.

The market garden at Spicers Hidden Vale … its bounty includes a bevy of fresh vegetables and herbs.

The larder is supplemented by the produce of local farmers, gardeners and other providores, who are delivering outstanding culinary treats to the kitchen at Spicers Hidden Vale.

This includes delicious local freshwater cray raised at nearby Tarome Fresh Crayfish, Murray cod and selected beef and lamb cuts.

It’s difficult to describe the feeling of staying at Spicers Hidden Vale, though the term “laid-back rural elegance” comes very close to the mark.

Lockyer Valley magnificence … the outlook from the veranda of one of the cottages.

You’re certainly unlikely to stay or dine there as a walk-in off the street. The property’s location on an isolated country road virtually guarantees that there’ll be no customers passing by chance.

You have to know about the place, book in, and set out to go there.

Comfortable elegance … one of Spicers Hidden Vale’s sumptuous bedrooms.

Accommodation is mainly in a series of cottages scattered around the main homestead, which contains reception and the restaurant.

Many of the suites have a spa bath, fireplace and wide veranda with outdoor seating that offers simply stunning views of the countryside.

Spicers is a small group featuring luxury accommodation in south-east Queensland (Spicers Tamarind Retreat at Maleny on the Sunshine Coast, Spicers Clovelly Estate at Montville on the Sunshine Coast, Spicers Peak Lodge on Queensland’s Scenic Rim, Spicers Hidden Vale at Grandchester in the Lockyer Valley, and Spicers Balfour Lodge in Brisbane), Sydney (Spicers Potts Point in the Eastern Suburbs), the Hunter Valley (Spicers Vineyards Estate at Pokolbin) and the Blue Mountains (Spicers Sangoma Retreat at Bowen Mountain).

IF YOU GOSpicers Hidden Vale

617 Grandchester Mt Mort Road, Grandchester QLD 4340

Phone 1300 179 340


Technology marches on: The phrase that kills companies



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There’s an image floating around cyberspace that resurfaces every year or so. It’s a page from a 1991 Radio Shack catalogue. Radio Shack is the US version of the old Tandy, for those who remember the latter.
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On it are a range of products for sale. And the capabilities of the products on that page can now be found in a single place: inside your smartphone.

The list includes a “VHS Camcorder” (remember those?), “mobile cellular telephone” (that just made calls), a 20-memory speed dial phone (with a cord), a tape recorder, scanner and CD player. Oh, and a desktop computer.

The total value of that page, in 1991 dollars, was $3239. If you bought a smartphone at any time in the past couple of years, you paid less than a quarter of that price – in 2017 dollars, no less. For far, far, superior technology.

(Remember that next time someone complains that things aren’t getting better, or that everything is so expensive these days.)

Sticking with the theme, Radio Shack filed for bankruptcy in 2015. And again in 2017.

That catalogue page, though, is both a metaphor and an all-too-real example of something every investor should be alert to: the potential disaster around the corner. It’s exemplified in a simple phrase: “When your product becomes someone else’s feature.”

Sure, some people still buy portable CD players that clip to their belts. Or bulky VHS camcorders.

When was the last time you saw more than two people at the same spot using an old-style photographic camera? And even if you did, they were likely swamped 50 to one by smartphones taking snaps, right?

The miniaturisation of technology, which means we each carry around more computing power in our pockets than was in the first few generations of spacecraft, is largely responsible for this shift. But not entirely.

Email, free with any internet connection, has devastated traditional post. Improved vehicle security and in-car audio systems have all but destroyed the car alarm and after-market stereo businesses. The international linking of debit and credit card systems has meant you no longer need traveller’s cheques in your wallet next to your Bankcard (also gone). There are many, many additional examples.

And, back to computing, Amazon, Apple and Google are trying to take it to the next level. Amazon’s new Prime “club” includes free streaming of a host of movies and music. Apple and Google’s music subscription programs make albums – either physical or digital – an endangered species.

Then there’s the smartphone app stores. Apps, though you do have to pay for some of them, have replaced GPS units (which themselves replaced physical maps), stream television shows and sport, allow you to buy goods online, play games – oh, and make phone calls.

One of the newer inventions to really take hold recently, though, is the ability to use your phone to pay. I’ve just been away for a week, and all but one transaction was done by tapping my phone against the payment terminal. For now, I’m linking it to my credit cards. But how long before the likes of Visa and American Express face disruption of their own?

That product, the credit or debit card, is quickly becoming a feature. And not only of the smartphone but of the operating system.

Even better (or worse, if you face disruption): the operating system itself is becoming part of a bigger ecosystem. If you’re part of Team Google, for example, your phone, computer files, payments, email and a whole lot more are inside one ecosystem. Ditto for Apple. So when one of them releases a new feature ???

Innovation is happening at a greater rate than ever before. Products are becoming features at a rate of knots. Businesses that once seemed impervious to the march of technology are increasingly under threat by digitisation. And with it, by globalisation.

How will our local banks tackle the deluge of online payment options such as PayPal, Apple Pay or Android Pay? Will Amazon’s arrival spell trouble for not only discretionary retailers such as Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi, but also Woolies and Coles?

Because here’s the rub: companies don’t fall over when the last customer walks out the door.

They face trouble when 10 per cent of customers leave. Because they have massive infrastructure – store footprint, inventory, administrative staff, marketing and other costs – that doesn’t deal well with declining sales.

Just ask Radio Shack. It did more than $US4 billion in sales in the last year it made a profit. It fell to a loss when revenue hit $US3.8 billion. And it never recovered.

The old rules of market dominance no longer apply. Not every company faces Radio Shack’s fate, but every investor – not just in the technology arena – should be vigilant to their company’s product becoming someone else’s feature. It could be the beginning of the end..

Scott Phillips is the Motley Fool’s director of research. He owns shares in Amazon成都夜总会招聘.